With the start of 2017, it’s that time of the year when people may want to make their New Year’s resolutions. According to a recent survey, there are more people who want to get off of social media than those who want to quit smoking in the New Year. The survey shows one in ten participants hopes to spend less time on social networking sites, whilst only 8% would like to kick the habit.
The article also mentions many studies have found a link between the use of social networks and mental health problems. A new study from the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, for example, shows that people using seven to eleven social media platforms are three times more likely to be depressed or anxious than those using below two.
I can see why some people would want to use less of social media. I’ve noticed that when I check Facebook more often than I probably should, I don’t quite feel the pleasure of being ‘connected’ but instead would sometimes find myself wondering why other people’s lives seem so much more exciting than mine. Of course it's likely that what we see on social media is just half the truth because people seem to tend to share mainly optimistic moments on their social media accounts. Yet when you’ve seen enough of them, you may start thinking there’s probably no sorrow or any other negative emotions in others’ lives.
I think the mechanisms of giving and receiving ‘likes’ also contribute to the anxiety people may experience when they are navigating through the world of social media. I was talking to a friend the other day about the latest season of the sci-fi series Black Mirror, and the scenario in one of the episodes where people use social media to rate each other to determine their social status seems to reflect, and at the same time project the possible future of, the current state of social media.
All these also got me reminiscing about the times prior to the emergence of such social media sites as Facebook and Twitter. When I was in high school, blogs and desktop messengers were popular with people around my age. Those were our means of keeping each other updated after school. These forms of social media somehow felt more intimate than Facebook or Twitter in the sense that you’d normally write something longer than 140 words on your blogs to attract visits from your friends. Also, to add others to your messenger friend list, you’d typically need to ask them in person for their account handles.
This, however, is not to suggest that we should quit social media altogether. There are still multiple benefits of using social media. For example, you could read about the latest news, keep in touch with family and friends who live far away, to name just a few. If you happen to feel a bit burnout from using social media but don’t feel like leaving social networks for good, the tips listed in this article may come in handy.
All in all, perhaps it’s more sensible to take advantage of what social media has to offer instead of being burdened by it.